Container Shipment Update

Our most recent container shipment prepared for two hospitals in Nigeria and containing a wonderful selection of laundry, hospital equipment and supplies will be landing at Tincan Port, Nigeria, November 13th. We’ll keep you posted and our Nigerian team will be meeting to unload. I can hardly wait!

Health Insurance for Trip to Africa

Christina and I recently returned from a trip back east. Bernard Osei is now fully married and his wedding was just lovely. Well done, Bernard!

We had a wonderful dinner with HE Darren Schemmer (past High Commissioner to Ghana) and his wife Heather, in Ottawa. In the two to three hours we visited, Heather informed us of a superb health insurance program available for anyone staying in West Africa, run by a company in Germany. The organization is called West African Rescue Association. She mentioned that this is what their family and embassy staff faithfully subscribe to when in West Africa, and that in fact, when it has been required, has been an absolutely amazing resource, extremely professional and competent.

Heather said that this program was instrumental in saving their servant’s young daughter’s life. They take care of everything. Picking you up anywhere you are by helicopter, prearranging where there is expert support for your crisis, including what hospitals have functioning equipment, quality physicians, beds, etc. and taking care of all the details including paying for your needs upfront. She can’t recommend them any higher.

Advancing West African Health Care

President Johnson-Sirleaf informally requested support for the medical school at a reception held in our honour. During my visit to Connaught Hospital, Freetown, Sierra Leone, I encountered a continued need to collaborate in an enhanced vibrant partnership between West African hospitals and schools. In discussion with Prof. Afua Hesse, Director of Medical Affairs, KBTH, Accra, Ghana, KBTH and KBNF propose the commencement of a two-day conference, set for early November 2012, to be held at KBTH. We would be honoured to have in attendance the Administrators (Chief Executive Officers, Chief Medical Officers, and Deans of the pertinent Medical Schools) of the Connaught, JFK, UBTH and KBTH hospitals and medical schools in attendance. The agenda would include discussion of where the various centres are at in terms of development, what are their challenges and strengths, and what is their vision in the next 5 — 10 years. KBTH would facilitate accommodation and food and provide a meeting venue.

West Africa Must Attract the Brightest Stars

In August 2011, KBNF, in partnership with the University of Ghana, College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Anatomy Department, established a Neuroscience Research Graduate Program for West Africa. Providing West African nationals with a lifelong commitment to remain at home and practice their skill sets at contemporary international levels is of critical import to us. Education and training is critical in order to retain the brightest specialists and scientists. Historically, training for years abroad for West African students generally birth emigrants, intentional or unintended. Seldom do those nationals return home to fulltime, lifelong service. Consequently, in order to ensure that physicians and cohorts serve their country, we believe that a majority of education needs to be taught in Africa with fellowships arranged abroad and students with servants’ hearts well chosen.

Container for West Africa

KBNF is busy preparing a shipment of hospital supplies and equipment for Nigeria, a maternity clinic and our neurosurgery unit at University of Benin Teaching Hospital. Some linens are also going to Aaron’s Village Hospital on the southern coast of Ghana. More is to be shipped to Sierra Leone in September. We are so grateful for all the wonderful donations given by our province, the Yukon and parts of Alberta. It will mean the world to them in West Africa.

Please click here to see additional images.

An e-mail from Nigeria

Below is an e-mail that I received from a security guard that was with us during our visit to Nigeria. My response to his kind words is also below.


Compliment of the season to you, your members of KBNF and your family. I wish to use this opportunity to thank and congratulate you and your members for work well done throughout the year 2011. We the people of Nigeria love you and will keep on remembering you and your team for a great remarkable job you did in Nigeria. We also pray for your protection from God, provision to achieve your great vision and mission. May God bless and be with you all in Jesus name Amen. My regard to Mrs. Jocelyne Lapointe and the rest of your team.




Dear Joshua,

Thank you for your lovely note. I remember our mission to Nigeria so very fondly. . . and your care and attention for our safety, as one of our valued security officers. We cherish you all so dearly and know that our paths will indeed cross again, as our project grows. We will add this note to our website, so others on our team and family can be encouraged.

Have a wonderful new year.




A Thank You re: Neuroscience Conference

Below is from an email we received from a participant from Nigeria who attended the KBTH – KBNF Neuroscience Conference in Ghana last week.


The Nigerian family say “A BIG THANK YOU” to the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation for a well organized conference! Glad to belong to such a formidable  family. We arrived Benin City at 16.45hours. Our thanks go to Marj, Jocelyne, Prof Seth Ayetty and family for making our one week stay in Ghana an unforgettable one. We also give thanks to God for making evangelist Danny Moe such a blessing. We will  surely “make a difference” and spread the good news.
Much love from us all,

Marj Ratel in Ghana – Blog Post 3

The final day of the conference was well received by an energized audience of doctors and nurses. The moderator was Dr. Vincent Hewitt, Head of the Radiology Dept. Beginning with an expert presentation on neuro-imaging and its impact on clinical care by Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe, Dr. Chris Honey followed with a riveting talk on functional neurosurgery and its impact on individuals suffering from essential tremors, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson, and other debilitating conditions. Dawn MacDonald discussed Palliative Care as a positive term, with quality of life the optimal outcome. Danny Moe resumed his Heart Power presentation, talking about greatness requiring us to “water the camels” — concluding the first day’s session.

In the afternoon, I discussed the management of behaviourally challenged neuro patients and Lisa presented the neuroscience research graduate program developments. Lisa also conducted an energized reflection session, where the participants got into groups of eight and discussed three questions. 1. What are the most critical health care issues in Ghana and West Africa at the moment? 2. What are the two most valuable concepts provided over the past two days? 3. What are the topics desired for next year?

A review of the answers by each group was quite revealing. Emergency transport needs were raised by almost every group as a top priority in West Africa. Deficiencies in resources including working equipment, education and training were also identified. One group raised the priority need for change of “attitude” among the health care team.

The second question revealed that the components of Heart Power took the prize! Each group singled out various concepts within Heart Power, including Solomon’s cap, going the extra mile, watering your “camels,” romancing every situation, giving out blessings to one another and to patients. They also appreciated Chris Honey’s discussion on Brain is Time (accepting the primary injury is complete however the secondary injury can be prevented with swift intervention), and Right Patient / Right Procedure / Right Time to improve quality of living. Discussion of the immediacy of intervention to preserve brain and choosing the right patient at the right time for the right reasons were valuable.

The topics desired included spinal cord care, management of spina bifida, emergency nursing, etc. Textbooks were gifted to four groups in attendance – ECG Manual to Dr. Rene Wulff, Neuro-anesthesiologist for the KBTH Recovery / ICU nurses; ACLS Manual to the Critical Care Nurses Association of Ghana; Critical Care Nursing textbook to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital neurosurgery nurses; and The Anatomy and Physiology Diagram textbook to a physician’s assistance school in Tema. We extend appreciation to Bruce Forrest for his generosity in providing the nursing textbooks. These resources will be used.

Danny wrapped up the conference, speaking on Heart Power’s – Dream maker’s help others fulfill THEIR dreams and by helping others, they fulfill their own dreams! Nii Otu Nartey, KBTH CEO Administrator and Mrs. Victoria Quaye, Director of Nursing joined the afternoon team as we wrapped up a very inspiring and successful conference. Prof Nartey shared that he is very excited by the wonderful response and wants to continue to build these neuroscience conferences at KBTH inviting the staff of all the hospitals around Ghana.

Evaluations have been submitted by each correspondent. We’re awaiting the formal results. Certificates were handed out for both days’ attendance. We brought 200 and we ran out at the end, having to combine two days onto one certificate. So over the two days, we enjoyed 100+ in attendance both days!! What a blessing.

I had a wonderful meeting with the KBTH Director of Nursing as the conference closed, discussing how my teaching in how to approach challenging situations hit a big chord with the attendees and this needs to be expanded and presented to the nursing administrators and staff throughout the hospital. As well, the chart documentation system is eagerly anticipated and we’ll be moving ahead on this Monday, using neurosurgery as a pilot unit.

The CME Conference continued in full force through Friday afternoon. KBNF team members including the nurses attended a luncheon on the Friday and we were eagerly received by the facilitator, Dr. Elijah Paintsil, Yale University. Our contributions in the neuroscience field were very much appreciated and Chris Honey received many calls to return to teach additional sessions. So you can imagine, we’re encouraging Chris to join us in future conferences. He’s very open. Paul King is also eager to continue to expand his role in Ghana and is pursuing various avenues to raise funds and meet critical needs. He was busy reviewing urgent pediatric cases that need neurosurgical intervention and determining if they could be managed at Korle-Bu or if they required transport to his Atlanta hospital in the U.S. for advanced care.

Jocelyne worked on education and training as well as radiology department assessment preparations during the day, as she prepares for next week’s programs.

Lisa met with Dr. Adjei, Deputy Provost, CHS, UG and they had a very rewarding discussion on research developments and student exchange program development. Lisa and Fred Addai, Chair of Anatomy, worked on the next steps for the research program and managed to connect with the collaborators. Regular international monthly meetings will now commence. The initial research into chart documentation development questionnaire has been prepared by Lisa and we will begin to implement this in the next few days.

I met with Head Sister Charity, KBTH Neurosurgery Unit, and she has conducted meetings with her staff determining what they would like to hear from me in the next couple of weeks. The priority for Monday and Tuesday will be Glasgow Coma Scale reviews and practice sessions. I met briefly with George Wepeba and Patrick Banka, KBTH neurosurgeons. They were delighted to hear of the automated doctors orders that I am preparing for their review, revisions and acceptance.

Chris and his son Michael toured the neurosurgery unit and the operating and recovery rooms, escorted by Thomas Dakurah, Head of the Neurosurgery Dept. Chris was so pleased to visit the various areas.

Our team headed to the Fair and Marketplace to purchase gifts for family at home. Bartering was vastly conducted by Justina, our Nigerian neuro nurse. Dr. Honey watched Justina’s skills in amazement, as she bartered for each item. Most of the team purchased beautiful quality cloth so their families could make outfits or in Chris’s case, a tablecloth, at home.

Our day concluded with a relaxing dinner and reflection over the past week’s visit and activities. It was spirited, encouraging and rewarding, as we heard of the wonderful impact of the teaching conferences and the quality time together as a neuroscience family. Chris mentioned that the twice daily visits on the bus, sometimes taking two hours, was a wonderful time of getting to know each other. We challenged each other in neurosurgery management issues and dug deeper and deeper into the challenges of decision-making and confidence to make right choices. We discussed issues of life and death, the challenges of patients with a GCS of three and ventilated for weeks and months with no appearance of improvement and yet other patients are denied ventilator support because there are no other mechanical resources available. We discussed reducing length of patient stay, thereby freeing up beds for the eight patients in emergency or clinic urgently awaiting a bed in neurosurgery.

Our practice in Canada of preoperative patients arriving the day of surgery does not appear to be an option at this time with the Nigerian team. Why? Because patients would not likely be able to fulfill the preop instructions independent of the nurses. As for discharge, they would like to try to achieve reducing their postop stay. Mobilizing day one postop is being practiced now, where it is feasible. Having a subacute unit for patients that need supervision, but are almost ready for discharge was another concept that may work.

Our KBNF family continues to grow and deepen. We are indeed blessed.

Marj Ratel in Ghana – Blog Post 2

Sunday was a wonderful day!  Attending Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey’s Shiashie Presbyterian church in the morning, I listened to sermons in Ga, Twi and English.  The congregation was most welcoming and Danny Moe gave an encouraging introductory message on Heart Power and Dare to Dream-Dare to Do. It was very well received. Our Nigerian team arrived at the service and we all celebrated two Ayettey birthdays that afternoon. We toured the Shiashie School and visited the well project at the back of the property. Presently, the water is not consumable; so as funding is available, preparations are underway to develop a filtering system. They appreciate the financial commitment of members of our KBNF family towards this project.

The rest of our KBNF mission members arrived over the weekend, with Lisa Cain coming in last on Monday afternoon. The youngest member of our team is four . . . Caleb Udoh! He’s a very bright and lively little Nigerian boy and keeps his parents hopping.

Jocelyne Lapointe and Paul King, along with Chris Honey and his son, headed over to the CME conference first thing Monday morning, presenting neuroscience talks to approximately 240 attendees from across West Africa, including our Nigerian team doctors. Jocelyne and Paul have been working for months as members of the CME planning team, arranging the neuroscience speakers, so this was an exciting day for them.

Our Nigerian neurosurgery team, led by Prof. David Udoh, is so very inspiring and full of love and passion for the advancement of neurosurgery care for their people. Monday morning, the nurses and I headed over to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, to work on chart documentation upgrades for West African hospitals. We were joined by critical care nurses and educators. A review of critical care pathway development, automated doctors’ orders and various protocol and assessment sheets was positive and we are now working on the draft documents that will be trialed. The purpose of these revised documents is: 1. Time saver 2. Reduces errors 3. Accountability. David Udoh is prepared to begin using automated doctors’ orders “within 1 week,” so I need to work swiftly to ensure I have the first installment ready for his return home on Friday. I understand that Military 37 are willing to participate in a trial run, so that is exciting as well. My dream is to contemporize the documentation system so that West Africa is on the cutting edge of development.

Tuesday saw a day of multitasking, while the doctors headed to the CME Conference, with the focus primarily on neuroscience while the nurses headed to Korle-Bu to attend Danny’s Dare to Dream-Dare to Do Academy in the KBTH Boardroom. 7 Ghanaian and Nigerian nurses expressed they would never be the same after the very inspiring day, with all of them identifying many of their life dreams and how they would achieve them. They also learned that impossible dreams = God dreams, and we are dream carriers in these dreams. The outcome is well beyond anything that we could imagine and the details for realizing these dreams is out of our control . . . so much excitement was generated by the day.

Lisa and I met with Prof. Fred Addai, Chair of Anatomy, University of Ghana, for the morning as plans for the launching of the neuroscience research graduate program were confirmed. Lisa will share on the developments in a blog post. It was so exciting to feel the enthusiasm generated by our efforts. Fred shared that this is so very timely and now that he has two new anatomy professors along with two more young professors returning in a year, there is the expectation that this can be the beginning of a very productive research program. The key areas that are being pursued concomitantly include spinal, cerebral malaria (vast majority of deaths in children), and stroke research. We believe that these three areas alone will inspire much collaboration and interest around the world.

Fred, Lisa and I met with Provost Aaron Lawson and reviewed the plans for the establishment of the neuroscience research program. Many details were discussed and a press release was forwarded by the Provost after our visit. We also discussed the upcoming construction of the CHS hospital in East Legon, University of Ghana campus. These are exciting times, as Parliament has now approved the loan for this project. Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey is Chair of the project and is also fully engaged in preparations for the upcoming construction, expected in September.

To close out a full day, the nurses worked with Lisa Cain and me on documentation, identifying that we need two pilot projects in order to effectively transition these documents throughout the region. UBTH’s neurosurgery team is very committed to this project. A Ghanaian unit will also be seconded for a trial run. Lisa Cain, Research Chair, is preparing a research study for the project that will determine the effectiveness of these new documents and their value to nurses and doctors.

In the evening, our team met for dinner and games were enjoyed during the meal. Asking medical questions for gifts was much more successful than asking geography questions about Canada! Education about the capital of Canada ensued, as well as several other lessons. Lots of fun! Afterwards, five remained in the dining room to watch The King’s Speech, my favourite movie, on my laptop.

Wednesday again was a full and exciting day for the team, as we held the first KBTH-KBNF Neuroscience two-day Conference at KBTH. Seth Ayettey and Afua Hesse opened the conference with me. As Chairman, Seth gave greetings on behalf of the KBTH Board and the President that appointed them, and opened the conference in prayer. 100 attendees from various regions of Ghana, as well as Nigeria, are in attendance through to tomorrow. Dr. Thomas Dakurah ably moderated the 1st session. Chris Honey gave a riveting power point on head injury management — maximizing outcomes, identifying that while primary head injury is not in our power to prevent, secondary head injury is. Paul followed with a beautiful power point presentation on stroke management and intracerebral hematomas. The audience avidly questioned the speakers on their presentations and related material, challenging them with questions including how to handle neurosurgical crises when essential equipment such as a CT Scanner or a ventilator are not available. Chris’s response was that there is usually something that can be tried based on the history and exam alone — including lateralizing signs, without a CT scan, to definitively identify the source of deterioration. He said you do your best with what you have and sleep well at night. The first session was rounded off by Danny Moe, commencing his lively and motivational Heart Power Academy seminar. He is delivering the seminar in four phases over the two-day conference. Many expressed a desire to hear his complete seminars. On Saturday, there is a full Academy Day at the hospital for anyone who would like to attend. The sign-up sheet was filling up fast, last time I looked.

In the afternoon, we split into two groups, with Lisa and me teaching the nurses and Paul and Chris teaching the physicians. Cranial nerves and raised intracranial pressure were expertly covered by Lisa, whose background is in neuro-anatomy; while a neuro nurse and I reviewed neurovital sign assessment, followed by behavioural challenges in the neuro patient and coping mechanisms for the nurses. There was much laughter in the midst of learning. Michael Honey spent hours writing up all the attendees’ names on conference certificates, taking such care and attention to get the names spelled right. Jocelyne taught neuroradiology at the CME conference, while Paul and Chris continued their teaching at our KBTH-KBNF conference, teaching trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis and treatment options and spine injury management. The day’s conference sessions concluded with Danny giving part two of Heart Power — attitude is gratitude! Following the final session, a wonderful reception was provided for all the attendees. Prof. Nii Otu Nartey attended and greeted the guests, while Prof. Afua Hesse was busy signing the lovely conference certificates.

With no time to spare, our team headed over to the Department of Anatomy at 6 p.m., for the special event of celebrating the commencement of the neuroscience research graduate program. Neurosurgeons, anatomists, KBTH hospital administrator, Afua Hesse, and KBNF members were in attendance, while Lisa gave a wonderful power point talk on the development of the international research collaborative. A reception, graciously hosted by Fred Addai and his department, concluded the evening. Exhaustion set in as our team called it a day and peacefully headed home to the hotel, led by our expert KBTH driver.

A discussion about a Ghanaian woman that is in desperate need of a craniotomy, for removal of a difficult brain tumour, was broached today. This woman’s husband found KBNF during an Internet search and sent a heart wrenching email asking for help. Afua Hesse and Patrick Banka, KBTH neurosurgeon, are collaborating with Paul and Chris in determining if they can help this woman and her distraught husband before the end of the week. Expert support from our team could perhaps give her a chance at a future.

We’re ready for day two of our conference. I am so thrilled that of all the participants today, only one confirmed he would not be back and we understand more will be joining us tomorrow. So I’m hoping we have enough certificates for everyone. . .